Thursday 1 September 2011

Caught Live - Nightbox/Yes Cadets/Eatenbybears

Venue – The Stiff Kitten, Belfast

Date – 31st August 2011

There was a smaller crowd than expected at the gig this evening, with only a handful of people making the journey to the Stiff Kitten to see the trio of bands on offer.

One categorization of music that I have never understood is so called ‘math-rock.’ Why is it that if a band showcases the ability to count to a number other than four in a bar, they are suddenly seen as being mathematic? I know of some drummers that struggle to even get that far, but come on, it’s not as if they write songs about Fermat’s Last Theorem or Marcus de Sautoy. As such, I refuse to give credence to the genre. Henceforth, I will only refer to it by the more accurate description of ‘shifty-pop.’

Anyway, the first band of the night are Belfast based shifty-pop four-piece Eatenbybears. They have added their own twist to the genre in that the main instrument for most of the set is not the guitar, but the effect-pedal hooked violin of Aidan Kelly, which at several points he plays as if it was a guitar. (Well, I suppose if Sigur Ros can play a guitar like it’s a violin, I’m sure it was only a matter of time before some bright spark tried it the other way around).

Whilst their set was particularly solid (my highlight being the finale “Spite Houses”, which has a massive vocal hook that reminds me of The Cure’s “Close to Me”), I had difficulty working out who the front man was supposed to be. Logic would dictate that Aidan is, given his position on the stage. However, it seemed as if the majority of the vocals were handled by guitarist Olan Stephens, who kept a much lower profile on stage. As the band have only been about for less than a year, I’m sure it is something which the band will iron out as they progress.

The devil ain't getting this fiddler's soul.

I have been following the progress of Yes Cadets for over a year now, and I was glad to finally get the chance to see them live. Whilst they were playing to a smaller crowd (most of the Eatenbybears groupies had shuffled to the bar by this stage), they put on a stunning performance, beginning with the euphoric opening of “Canada”, through to last year’s Bloc Party-esque single “Lies”, and finishing off with their Radio 1 Playlisted “Le Mans”. Yes Cadets are a seriously underrated band on the local scene, and with such inspired musicianship and a knack for a killer guitar riff, they deserve to go far indeed.

Yes Cadets, doing their thing.

As an Irish band signed to the hip Kitsune Records, it seems obligatory to compare Nightbox to Two Door Cinema Club, but doing such would be both lazy and untrue. If the band are like any current group, I would say that they are more akin to Friendly Fires, and that’s not just the spasmic dancing of front man Jake Bitlove. Their mix of funky bass lines, intricate electronics and an extremely charismatic singer make these guys really special indeed.

The greatest moment of the night occurs when the band play a seemingly unexpected and unannounced cover of the Paul Simon classic “You Can Call Me Al.” Despite the fact Jake seems to have forgotten some of the lyrics (he repeats the second part of the 1st verse during the 2nd verse), they put their own stamp on it, with the chorus made a whole lot more soleful, and a three minute “We Are Rockstars” style riff breakdown placed in the middle of the song. Nightbox should be congratulated for not only tackling a sacred cow, but improving upon it.

When the band concluded with “Relocate You”, I was left with a massive smile upon my face, and an exhausted body from all the dancing Nightbox’s music had forced me into. Nightbox are a band for people who want to have a good time and go mental (metaphorically, of course).

Warning: This picture is not the best indicator of their mentalism

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